by Guest Blogger, Peggy DePersia
“Everything is made out of magic”….or so it is believed in Camden, Maine. In fact, this quote is etched on a stone laid into a path that marks the street level entrance to the Camden library. I mention the street level entrance because Camden’s sense of it’s own history compelled the city planners to leave the original structure of their picturesquely perched library in tact and find a less invasive approach to a much needed expansion. The result: an excavation of the hill on which the library sets and a large, modern, airy and windowed lower level with an entrance and adjacent garden directly across the street from Camden’s famed harbor.
Camden’s beautiful harbor is nestled at the base of the Camden Hills on the Western Shore of Penobscot Bay next to the legendary east coast ‘route 1’, It is the mooring base for many sail and motor boats of all shapes and sizes and the starting point for schooner sails into the Atlantic for seafaring souls with a sense of the romance that characterizes bygone eras. One can’t help but feel the rigor of salt and sea that framed our 19th century history. It remains in the air.
Back to the local architecture….The Camden library, described as the ‘jewel in the crown’ of Maine libraries, and Mainers take their libraries seriously, represents but one example of the town’s respect for long standing architectural traditions. There are examples of early American styled dwellings with barn attached to the main house by way of a connecting structure; a measure developed to protect both man and beast from the harsh winds and deep snow of a typical Maine winter. There are newer scaled down versions of the grand residences of sea captains who reigned over coastal towns when ‘shipping was king’.
There is also contemporary residential architecture inspired by traditional forms and sheathed in the ubiquitous ‘cedar shake’.
Charming is the word that describes the town; the route is lined with shops of all varieties and restaurants that cater to fish foodies yearning for a taste of Maine lobster or seafood chowder. Cappy’s chowder house is a local favorite and fun for tourist and townie alike with yummy chowders and seafood bisques that aren’t always easy to duplicate ‘back home’.
Maine has become a destination to which we retreat repeatedly. The history, the pace, the people and their heartiness appeal. It’s a place that feels as solid as the monolithic rock that marks the coast.
Peggy recently retired as a high school art teacher and now devotes her time to teaching at Kendall College of Art and Design and living creatively.
They both enjoy travel and their time on or near water.